The Shape of Things to Come…

So there are a lot of things afoot (as usual) and I wanted to let you know about them and ask for some input as well…

First of all, the website is being redesigned (again) and moved from the Joomla platform over to a WordPress platform, because I need more flexibility with the design. Expect an unveiling within the next few weeks.

As part of the new design, I’ll be offering a lot of things for sale on the site. Obviously, the majority of this will be related to my writing. I already offer a number of ebooks for sale, but expect that number to increase substantially. You’ll be able to buy ebooks from me directly (using PayPal), over at Amazon, over at Smashwords, and within the next few weeks the first of these offerings will be available for purchase over at iTunes as an app for your iPhone/iPad/iTouch. I’ve already seen the app for Parallax and it looks great. The app is entirely self-contained with ereader software so there’s no need to download anything else.

As part of this ebook push, I realize a lot of you will still want printed versions of my books. I can’t say I blame you since I still very strongly about having things actually “in print.” So I’m looking into a number of print-on-demand services to satisfy this need. Obviously, I don’t want to do a huge layout of cash for offset printing and then have to deal with inventory, shipping, postage, etc. That takes away from everything else I’m doing. So, as far as I know (and feel free to chime in if you know differently) POD looks to be the answer to this problem. I want everything that I have to sell to be available in as many ways as possible. So, I hope a lot of you will comment below and let me know about your experiences with any POD services (Createpspace, Unibook, Wordclay, Lulu, Blurb, etc.) below.

Also, as part of the POD question, would you be more inclined to purchase a trade paperback or a hardcover if you were offered one or the other. Some of the places I’m investigating offer hardcovers for only a few bucks more than the paperback. Figured I’d see where your inclinations lie in this regard. So don’t hold back! :)

Additionally, we will start selling some other swag: specifically sweatshirts, T-shirts, and stuff like that. All of this is going to be available via this site through a 3rd party vendor. So I’m also looking for your input on this front. I *think* I know who I’m going with for this function, but again, feel free to chime in below.

More news is coming soon, but for now, I hope you’ll share your thoughts below. Thank you!

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26 comments

  • Deb Krieger March 12, 2010  

    Hi Jon. I look forward to the new site. No POD experience, but yes, I really prefer the tactile sensation of a book. If I had to choose between a trade paperback and a hardcover, I’d probably pick the hardcover. I guess it depends on the type of paper it’s printed on. Sounds weird I know, but again, for me it’s the whole tactile thing.

    Extra swag is GREAT. Love that stuff. I’m going to connect you to a friend that worked with a company at the end of last year and raved about them. Expect an email shortly.

    Happy Friday.

    Deb

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Thanks for the input, Deb! Much appreciated!

  • Jonathan Ross March 12, 2010  

    It’s really impressive how committed you are to offering your fans such a wide variety of alternatives. Way to go.

    I too am more of a paper book reader, preferably softcover simply because with so many amazing authors out there I have run out of shelf space.

    Anyway I’m looking forward to seeing the new WordPress site. Thanks.

  • cftodd March 12, 2010  

    I love all the new happenings & cannot wait to see them all!! I have no POD experience but I will only buy a paperback when it is a book I really want and there is no hardcover available.. Of course some books I only want in hardcover so I will usually not buy the book until that is available.

  • Tephen King March 12, 2010  

    Again no POD experience I’m afraid.
    I also prefer the feel of a ‘real’ book but I’m more inclined to go for a paperback.
    Hardbacks are great and do look good, but for me its a question of shelf space.

    Looking forward to the extras you mentioned.
    Of course that means I’ll need to find more shelf space.
    Maybe i need a bigger house.

  • S. Michael Wilson March 12, 2010  

    As a book purchaser, I don’t have much to add regarding POD services. But from the author/publishing angle, I can tell you that Createspace, due to the Amazon imprint’s absorption of Booksurge (or vice versa), combined with Amazon’s strategic maneuvering in an attempt to corner the POD market, has the process running far slower than it should be. Also, I have more than a sneaking suspicion (based on past experiences) that they are purposely making the submission process more convoluted and difficult for more experienced hands-on publishers in an attempt to push them into the higher-priced tiers.

  • Rich Borgatti March 12, 2010  

    On The t-shirt front I vote for American Apparel t-shirts and Champion for sweatshirts.
    I just talked to this person about getting some shirts made for my business:
    http://www.ericareitmayer.com/

    I have never gotten any POD books but I have heard about Lulu and some big names in programming use them.
    I like paperback better than hardcover, It’s lighter and fits in my bag for train rides/flights. Great for commuters.

    Thanks Jon,
    Rich

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Thanks so much for all the great responses everyone!

    Michael – interesting points about Createspace. Thank you for that!

    Rich – I think my best bet is to find a 3rd party vendor who can do it on-demand much like the printed books. In this way, my initial investment is limited and I don’t have top worry about inventory, shipping, etc. Are you in the dojo tonight? We can talk more about Erica then.

  • Laurie March 12, 2010  

    Sounds great Jon, anything I can do from afar let me know!

  • Nita Medlin March 12, 2010  

    Jon,
    I am not savy when it comes to books via these new electronic outlets, so I cannot really comment other than to say – had it NOT been for PDF formula, I would have missed out on your awesome talent – I love(d) *PARALLAX* and I must tell you, that it was the 1rst book in a slew of years that I’ve actually read and couldn’t step away from until I finished it! Now all that having been said, if I were to go to purchase in print form, I prefer hardback rather than the paper back for duration purposes, among other reasons. Not to say that I would not purchase paperback if that is the only print form it is available in.
    The various *other* things you will have available, (flair I think you called it) I would purchase shirts, mugs and the like but, would prefer those things be products which have been made in this country!

    As for the future and your talents, I support and applaud your drive, your ambition and your journey! (I still believe the big screen would be a PERFECT place for PARALLAX)
    Kudos and good fortune to you with this and other endeavors!
    Nita

  • Marianne March 12, 2010  

    I personally like the hard cover as it will one day be a collector’s item!!! How about some of each : )

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Marianne – that’s not a bad idea. Hopefully I can find one vendor who can do both. Some of the places offer good prices on trade paperbacks, but insanely expensive hardcover prices. And vice versa. But we’ll see!

    Nita – thanks so much for the kind words! And I will try my best to ensure that the products are all manufactured in the US.

    Laurie – thank you!

  • Karen in TN March 12, 2010  

    Anymore, I’d prefer a hardback. OK, I’ll admit, I always have – I hate trade paperbacks and they have always been a trademark of an “independently published” author, rather than one the big publishing houses take seriously – even though they are now routinely used instead of true paperback releases, I think mainly to pump up list prices in stores, Stores which have suffered more and more as fewer and fewer came in to buy the overpriced books (and with the publishers recent increases in hardback prices, to get above the arbitrary limit at Amazon that set their ebooks at $9.99, they are now higher than ever).

    But, like many, I have moved most of my new reading to ebooks. If I replace a paperback in e form, the paper copy is out the door and nearly anything new I buy as an ebook. For a book to earn a place on my crowded shelves, it has to be an author I really, really like – and those, I always bought in hardcover, if it was available.

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Thanks Karen – I’m not necessarily looking to get reviewed or get the books I’d publish into stores. They’re more for fans who come to the site, find stuff they haven’t seen before, and then have various options for getting that content. But I agree there are plenty of shoddy trade paperbacks out there. It’s tough finding one solution to this query; in fact, there may be several that I’ll just rig together.

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    PS: Karen, out of curiosity, where do you buy the majority of your ebooks? I want to make sure I’m there wherever it is, ha…

  • Dave Maciver March 12, 2010  

    I’ve heard decent things about Lulu so you’ll probably be alright there. As for hard vs soft its generally a price issue for me, but if there isn’t a big difference I’d probably plump for the hardcover simply because they’re more durable. And come with book marks in the form of slip covers!

    For the other swag I’d guess Cafe Press as that seems to be the big one.

  • Nancy March 12, 2010  

    My colleagues have had success using Lightning Source for their POD, and I’ve heard they can do coloured pages which may be useful for graphic novels.

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Thanks Dave. Don’t think I’ll be using Cafepress, actually. We’ll see…

    Nancy – does Lightning Source charge a big set-up fee? That’s the last I heard about them…

  • kezza44 March 12, 2010  

    HI again

    I have no experience with POD either – like ebooks but like the smell of a new book (is this a fetish :) )\

    But find trade or paperbacks better then Hard backs mainly because of the freight cost but if it was to cost only slightly more then a paperback then this would help to compensate for the cost if the extra freight

    keep up the good work

  • Donnie Light March 12, 2010  

    Hi Jon,
    I have worked with both lulu and createspace and for me createspace is the better choice. I have driven the cost of my POD printed books down by over 66 percent since the first version by experimenting with format (size) and other options. Plus, CS is linked up with Amazon making that transition simple.
    I’m also a big ebook fan, so 90 percent of my book purchases are ebooks. Still love my collection of print, but I’m going ebook whenever I can. I read on iPod touch, and have kindle, BN, and other reader apps. I love ebooks!
    Donnie Light, author of “Dark Justice”

  • Donnie Light March 12, 2010  

    Oh, forgot to mention, thereare no required fees at createspace, but there is like a $40 one-time option that reduces the cost of the books substantially. So if you plan on producing more than a handfull of books, it’s a no-brainer.

  • Tim D'Allaird March 12, 2010  

    Jon,

    I tend to lean towards towards paperbacks but a nice hardcover is always a tempting thing.. (I know, not much help!).

    The only POD press I know I have books from is Lulu….decent quality, good binding (only had trouble with one book and dried out glue). My wife’s publisher (Samhain) uses Lightning Source for printing and I believe (don’t know for sure) that they have a reasonable set up fee and a fair amount of add-ons that they charge for if you choose them. They do distribute through Ingrams to stores for you and you set the terms so that’s not too bad.

    Good on the shirts and swag. Hopefully using a reliable producer will make it a reality this time. I had a bad experience (that you helped straighten out immediately) a few years ago trying to get a shirt that was never produced.

    Good to see you moving ahead with stuff, exciting time to be a fan!

    Tim D.

  • jonfmerz March 12, 2010  

    Thanks everyone!

    Donnie – thanks for the perspective. Which sizes do you favor for your publishing?

    Tim – ‘preciate the info. Lightning Source seems to have a set-up fee per book, so not sure if I’m looking for that. And yes, whoever does the shirts & swag will definitely be reputable! :)

  • Jill Ells-O'Brien March 13, 2010  

    I lean toward trade paperbacks- hardcovers take up too much room and I don’t like to read electronically for enjoyment. I would be much more inclined to buy a few paperbacks at once and pay once for shipping, for example. (I’m a binge buyer. Don’t know if there’s a 12-step for that). Hardcovers signed by author are nice in theory but by the time I get thru reading them there’s no aesthetic value left ;)
    -Jill

  • Merle gornick March 14, 2010  

    Hi Jon! No experience with POD, I don’t think. lol. But I like the idea of your book being in print form. I’d love to re-read Parallax and Vicarious without sitting at the computer. If the Hardback is only a few more dollars than the paperback, I would get the hardback. I love collecting hardbacks of books that I love and yours would be right up there! And yay about the merchandise! That would be totally awesome. I’m already loving the stuff that you had sent to me and more merchandise would be fantastic!

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